On February 21, 2010, when he won a BAFTA for Best Actor, Colin Firth's list of people to thank included the man who repaired his refrigerator. Firth explained that he'd decided to turn down the part, and had an email to director Tom Ford in his outbox, waiting to be sent. Then a man arrived to repair his refrigerator, and Firth reconsidered.
IN the DVD commentary, Tom Ford says that when Jennifer speaks to George in the bank, some of what she says is based on Ford's own childhood. She has a pet scorpion because Ford and his sister had a pet scorpion when they were little. Her older brother is named "Tom" because Ford's first name is Tom. She speaks of her brother Tom giving her hair treatments with eggs because that was something Ford did for his own sister many times. She obliviously says that her brother Tom is "light in his loafers" (a slightly derogatory euphemism for being gay) because Ford is gay.
In the original novel, George is only known by his first name. The original screenplay gives him a full name, George Carlyle Falconer. Carlyle director Tom Ford's middle name. Falcone is the surname of Ford's first lover, illustrator Ian Falconer, and the name of a brand of sunglasses Ford's company makes.
Colin Firth's character mentions in a conversation with Nicholas Hoult that he once took mescaline and ended up shaving off one of his eyebrows. That actually happened to director Tom Ford. He was taking the drug with Stephen Spender when he went home, looked in the mirror, and "thought it was taking over my face".
Tom Ford revealed in an interview that the role of Kenny was originally given to a more famous actor (Jamie Bell, according an E! Online article) who didn't show up to the costume fitting five days prior to shooting. Ford then remembered an audition tape by Nicholas Hoult.
In an interview with Terry Gross, Tom Ford explained that he created a back story for George's suit. He decided that George would've had it custom made on Saville Row on a trip home to England, which informed its cut and color. He also decided that the suit was a few years old, because 'old-school' British people of wealth tend to be thrifty with clothing. Ford put a label on the inside of the suit with George's name and 1957, the year it was made.
The scenes set at the college where George teaches were filmed on the campus of the former Ambassador College in Pasadena. Ambassador College was founded during the 1940s by then-famous radio preacher Herbert W. Armstrong, to groom students for lives of service to their churches. Throughout the 1960s and '70s, campuses opened in Texas and the UK. By 1990, enrollment had fallen so much that the Pasadena campus closed; the rest closed by 1997. Since 1990, the former Ambassador Pasadena campus has also been used for high school classes and church services. It has also been the subject of a long-stymied mixed-use apartment and commercial development attempt called "Westgate Pasadena."
George's pistol is a Webley revolver, a standard firearm issued to British and Commonwealth troops from 1887 to 1963. It fired the .455 caliber Webley cartridge, making it one of the most powerful handguns ever made.
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
Colin Firth told interviewer Terry Gross that the scene in which his character discovers his boyfriend has died was shot at the same time that John McCain was conceding the 2008 U.S. presidential election. Firth said "hearing John McCain conceding defeat was not conducive to tragedy in that moment for me."